March 24 - Blue Mountain

Today shooting for Blue Mountain shelter, 7.3 miles away. Kind of happy that people are saying this hike is easier, and many are thinking of going off trail for day or two to rest up and resupply tomorrow. Not sure what I'll be doing, but expect that I'll keep heading north for a few days then get some "zeros" in.

Hike starts as expected, relatively easy with good weather, although cooler than anticipated. 50+ degrees forecast in valleys doesn't translate to the same temperature in the hills.

Take a break at the five mile mark, and up comes Muriel (NC), her hiking partner John (NH), Ent (because she walks like one, from VT), and Muriel's friend who's working, and on the trail for two weeks. We have.a really nice lunch break, set on this cross roads between two trails. John just got the trail name Pope, because someone found out his middle name is Paul, and we need a Pope traveling with us. Muriel just finished school in December and is trying to figure out what next, and Ent is taking some time off from writing government grants and editing her first book.

I'm also watching what they're eating, and it's a lot better than me.  Couscous, cheese, dried fruit while I munch on trail mix. Hmmm.

Also talk to a pair of day hikers who are sitting some distance away, former thru hikers, who said the most important thing they learned about the trail was after the got off Mt. Katahdin - reduce your pack weight. Hmmm.

We all get started up again separately, with less than three miles to go. I'm feeling rested and good, and then hit the rocks. And the roots. And the elevations. Eventually everyone passes me and I'm going slower, stopping more often. Drinking water, eating trail mix.

Get to the water supply about 0.15 miles before shelter, and there's Achin. I tell him I've hit the wall for the first time. He says that Trudger and he are going to Hiawasee for two days and they are sharing a room if I want to go. I said absolutely, I need rest and calories. He heads up to shelter, I fill water bottles and can see the shelter.  Yes, I can see it. There it is, right up there.

My legs and I have a conversation, with my legs telling me if it's the shelter you want, it's your turn to carry me.

After five minutes, or maybe two, I get up and make it to the shelter realizing I have to fix my diet and reduce weight. Hiawasee sounds like a good place to do both.

About 12 hikers eventually show up, and a light rain is expected in the early morning. I decide to try sleeping in the shelter for the first time, just to see how it goes. Call Mom to wish her a happy birthday, but can only leave a message. We all help Mutton Chops build a nice fire, as temps continue to go down.

Sleep fitfully but wake up at 3 AM to find snow swirling around in the shelter. I have a down bag, which is really warm but if it gets wet it gets really cold.  Quickly and noisily pull my ground cloth (Tyvek) out and create a quick shelter over my bag. Big Shep in the middle does the same thing, but perhaps taking longer, Mutton Chops starts complaining about how d--n noisy Shep is (although Mutton has been snoring pretty much non-stop).

Finally get to sleep, kind of.

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